The Inside Scoop on Inside Jokes

Pauline over at Brightest Blue inspired this post when she asked me if I ever include inside jokes in my novels that only my family and close friends would understand. I thought it was an excellent question, one that no one else had ever asked before.
My immediate thought was—Oh yes I do!

A writer’s work is quite personal and close to the heart. While the story can be completely fabricated, we take many of those little snippets that make up real life, and put them in our work. Every writer is an observer. We play attention to details. Then we record what we see and hear, weaving it into our prose as we go. Perhaps this is why our novels are so very personal to us–so much of ourselves goes into the books we write.

I’ve known painters who include a symbol somewhere in their paintings, something that would go unnoticed by many, but something that is quite personal to them. I think it’s something fairly common.

Could it be that this is similar to what a writer does?

Our family has a lot of little inside jokes. No doubt many families do. Would other people find our jokes humourous? Probably not. Most of our jokes would fall into the “You had to be there” category. Let me just say we’re a pretty silly bunch. Just ask any of the people who “know” us in real life.Too many funny things have happened over the years, and for me laughter is one of our most precious gifts.

Is it tempting to put some of these inside jokes in the stories I write? Oh I have to admit it is VERY tempting. Being the one in control allows me the freedom to do what I want, and make it as personal as I want. While there is nothing comical in my writing I still take pleasure in including these inside jokes in my stories. Usually it is a single word that holds some meaning, although sometimes a short saying can bring the giggles out of us as well. Of course it has too fit naturally into the story, no awkwardness just for the sake of slipping it into a story.

Pauline’s question made me curious about the rest of you. So I’ve go to ask:

Do you include inside jokes in the stories you write? Or, like a painter who uses a symbol of importance in their work, do you place words of importance in the stories you write?

I bet you didn’t expect such a long-winded answer, Pauline. I’ll just say thanks for the inspiration.

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  1. Abigail

     /  March 22, 2011

    I haven’t used jokes, but I have included family conversations. And ways that we all talk.

    Interesting question. I’ll have to see when I read through it if I did include any jokes and just don’t remember.

    • I thought it was an excellent question as well and I had to grin when I read it becasue I felt as though I’d been found out! lol

  2. I cannot offhand think of anything like that in my novel, but I’ve written two short stories based on actual funny family episodes, changing names, etc., and some details, to protect the innocent and the guilty, one entitled “Camping with Mom,” and the other, “Which Boot.”

    • Real life is very inspirational for writers. I have not yet fictionalized an actual event but I know many writers do.. Funny we always seem to protect the innocent and the guilty. lol

  3. Melanie

     /  March 23, 2011

    Sounds like a racket to me! :P

  4. I include things from my life all the time. Sometimes I twist it to make it funnier/more interesting.

    When I had a character wondering what strange creature hid in the darkness, his thoughts revealed it probably wasn’t a cute kitten. I used kitten because my eight-year-old is in love with kittens.

    The date of birth (March 15) on the tombstone the kids read in Mystery Light in Cranberry Cove is my late father’s birthdate. The regiment (WNSR) the veteran had served in was the same as my father’s. My father was wounded in the same battle the grandfather’s brother was killed in.

    All our experiences enrich our stories. It is what we know best and is unique to us.

    As for jokes, if they fit into the story naturally, I use them. Perhaps only my family will get them, but that’s okay. Books are read on many levels. The experience depends on the reader’s own experience in life.

    Great post. It’s certainly something we should all consider/think about.

    • I’m inclined to dropp little hints into my writing as well and would definitely use dates, etc that had meaning for me.

      As for insdie jokes,in my present WIP, the main character speaks about “rackets” taking place and my kids can certainly see the rumour in this word being used. For this story, the word racket fit in quite nicely.. ;)

      My kids should be so pleased.

  5. christicorbett

     /  March 23, 2011

    I haven’t used inside jokes, but I’ve named minor characters after people who’ve helped me along the way with my writing :)

    Christi Corbett

  6. My magazine articles are usually reflective of a real experience, factual but exaggerated for the sake of interest. My DH is resigned to appearing in print in an often unrecognizable adaptation of some situation that caught my writerly fancy.

    • “Factual but exaggerated for the sake of interest.”–Now that I find interesting. Perhaps this is why I’ve always thought my life was SO much more boring than everyone else’s. ;)

      I’m sure your husband’s still flattered to be caught in there in one form or another.

  7. I insert bits of real life into my writing, but they aren’t inside “jokes”–just people or events that my family might appreciate reading about.

  8. For some strange reason, my sons are constantly saying something along the lines of “Mum–that better not appear in one of your books!”

    I have no idea why they feel the need to say that. And frankly, I’m insulted that they feel justified. I mean, really, if you can’t trust your own mother…!

    Did I mention that …?

    Okay, I better not.

    • LOL! Indeed you should be insulted. As you say if you can’t trust your own mother…well I don’t want to even thin about it… ;)

  9. Oh, absolutely. I love to name my characters after people I know. One of the main characters in the novel I’m writing now is named after a friend who died last year. I didn’t send flowers, so this will have to do.

    • Welcome to my blog, and thank for your comment. It’s always nice to know who drops in for a visit.

      I think that’s a wonderful way to honour your friend. Flowers are a fleeting thing while while the written word lasts forever and is enjoyed by many.

  10. Ach! Late comment sorry!
    No problem for the inspiration, I’m glad you thought it was a good question and it is neat how you include different personal things and inside jokes in your writing. :)

    • No problem! I thought it was such an excellent question. Likely as writers thing we’re being clever by doing this. I know I did, but I never expected anyone would ask..LOL! It’s nice to make our work uniquely our own by adding these little tidbits even if it’s something that only we are in on.


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